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  Social Responsibility

Rural Development
Published on: Feb. 13, 2020, 6:35 p.m.
Bharat Forge aims to develop 100 villages across five districts of Maharashtra
  • The old gives way to the new: upgrading rural infrastructure

By Business India Editorial

nder a Village Development Project, Bharat Forge aims to develop 100 villages across five districts of Maharashtra with a total investment of around Rs8 crore. The company is already working with 59 villages from five districts and eight talukas. About 2,368 acres of land has been brought under irrigation over the last two years, 433 wells recharged, 9,500 trees planted and 50 kms of internal roads constructed.

It has set targets and indicators for development including water (for drinking and agriculture); livelihood; health and nutrition; education and internal roads. The process involved visits and interactions with the villagers and local leaders; running a baseline survey of the village, and communication with local governance, government authorities and concerned bodies.

The company found a challenge in being accepted by local leaders and dealing with internal pressure groups in the villages. Communication with villagers from remote villages was not easy either. NGOs in these areas also fall short in skills like communication, report writing, analysis, speed and professionalism; and need training and mentoring.

Bharat Forge has since done water harvesting projects in the villages in alignment with Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyaan which is an initiative of the Government of Maharashtra. For the availability of water for farming and to put land under irrigation, Bharat Forge laid a pipeline in Kalewadi village under “Purandar Upsa Sinchan scheme”. This initiative has helped the farmers in terms of changing crop patterns, experimenting with high yield agriculture, thereby increasing their income levels. Initially, getting drinking water was also a difficult task for women from the villages where Bharat Forge has started working. They used to climb a difficult and steep road for two hours along with water buckets. This everyday struggle ended with the company’s efforts when water taps arrived at their doorstep.

It has also set up general health check-up camps for 707 villagers and distributed medicines apart from organising cataract detection camps in 13 villages. In Thakarwadi, villagers used to keep cattle in small houses thus facing health hazards. Separate cattle sheds have been constructed for goats and domestic animals to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. Under “Ayushman Bharat”, the company plans to set up telemedicine centres in villages with design of experiments [DoE] being conducted at three places.

In 2017-18 Bharat Forge planted 10,000 trees at various locations, with 98 per cent of them alive. As part of the rural sanitation programme, the company constructed toilets in 28 government schools which includes ZP Schools & Corporation schools from different locations, which benefitted ~7,000 children. The sanitation facilities helped in the inculcation of the value of cleanliness among children and reducing the absenteeism of girl students in the school.

The integrated approach to rural development initiated by the company led to several outcomes including greater awareness among women about health & early detection of diseases, improvement in agricultural productivity and reversed migration. A dipstick study of 152 families from Purandar & Ambegaon showed a three-fold increase in family income. The long-term impact was a change in habits of the people in the target rural communities for a better quality life.

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